Sunday, September 15, 2019
Danielle Melby reads a statement during her sentencing hearing Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Vicki Horstman.

Judge doesn’t accept plea deal in 2014 vehicular homicide case

A 2006 Tomah High School graduate stood before Circuit Court Judge Mark Goodman yesterday afternoon (Wednesday) for sentencing in the 2014 death of her then-boyfriend, Chad Rosier of Camp Douglas.

Despite a joint recommendation to place Danielle R. Melby, 29, on 10 years probation and one year conditional jail, Goodman imposed a seven-year prison sentence, three of which will be served in confinement.

“Because of the seriousness of the offense and the court’s resolve and commitment to treat similarly-situated defendants in a similar fashion, I cannot in good conscious abide by the recommendation of an imposed and stayed prison sentenced and placing Ms. Melby on probation with one year in jail,” he said. “The offense is far, far too serious and I have no choice but to impose a prison sentence.”

During the hearing, the court and family members heard arguments from both Assistant District Attorney Sarah Skiles and defense attorney John Matousek, along with statements by Melby, her sister, and Rosier’s aunt, who read words written by his mother.

“Chad loved life and had a lifetime to live. Now that life has changed to a life of ‘what-ifs’ and ‘nevers’. Chad will never walk me down the aisle on his wedding day. I will never hold his children in my arms. I will never hear his voice again and I’m so afraid I’ll forget.”

Melby pleaded no contest to homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle in January, at which time the court issued a pre-sentence investigation.

Melby was determined to be driving the evening of Jan. 18, when she lost control of Rosier’s pickup and struck a power pole near Tomah. A sample of her blood collected approximately four hours after the cash showed she had an alcohol concentration of .125. The legal limit is .08.

This is the appropriate length of sentence because your drunkenness took the life of your then-boyfriend,” Goodman said to Melby. “It is the appropriate length of sentence because anything shorter would diminish the value of the life that Chad Rosier lived. It is an appropriate length of sentence because of Wisconsin’s shameful history of far too many citizens being killed annually by intoxicated drivers. It is an appropriate sentence because maybe, just maybe, perhaps it will have a short-term deterrent effect on those who drink and drive.

Each year, approximately 200 people in Wisconsin are killed in car accidents involving alcohol.

Despite a request by Matousek to postpone Melby’s reporting to prison for 30 days, her sentence began immediately and she was taken into custody.

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